Black Panther (Non Spoiler Review)





After twenty years of a rumored movies based on the first Black Superhero of comicdom, the project has finally come to fruition.

Produced by Disney’s Marvel Studios and directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) Black Panther continues his storyline sometime after the events of Captain America, Civil War.

Instead of going on a quest for vengeance,  T'challa (Chadwick Boseman)aka The Black Panther, goes through your hero's journey narrative while struggling with a duality complex be it securing his mantle as the new King of Wakanda and being the world’s savior. Let’s just say that his majesty has domestic problems and family squabbles especially now that an outsider is contesting his monarchy and destined for a revolution that will not be televised!




For those of the uninitiated, Wakanda is a fictional isolated nation within the continent of Africa which has become a super power due to an element called Vibranium, capable of absorbing kinetic impact and sound. With this incredible but extremely rare resource, that nation has grown to a highly advanced civilization and they’re not anxious to share the wealth-even to neighboring tribes! The protector and monarchy of Wakanda share a linage from many generations and those who are chosen via trial by combat ritual, are given a heart shaped herb which endows him with superhuman abilities and Cat like prowess ergo the title-Black Panther!


“I have seen gods fly. I have seen men build weapons that I couldn't even imagine. I have seen aliens drop from the sky. But I have never seen anything like this. How much more are you hiding?”



Black Panther has practically everything for filmgoers, be it the international intrigue of Mission Impossible, gadgetry and villainy from the James Bond films, an epic grand scale battle akin to Lord of the Rings or 300, heroine warriors like the Amazonians seen in Wonder Woman, Tom Clancy vibes and even a bit of Star Wars thrown in. Its certain to entertain the moviegoing crowd and even a handful of skeptics. The comedic timing is impeccable unlike Age of Ultron and especially The Last Jedi. But aside from those examples, this movie is amazing for its story content, set designs, an organic soundtrack and spectacular visuals especially when gazing upon the forbidden city in Wakanda. Jack Kirby would be proud as it’s reminiscent of his conceptual designs and what I equally love most, is the depiction of Afro-Futurism of what Africa could be without the  indoctrination of colonialism.



The story although consisting of a few tropes along with predictable outcomes, doesn’t mean that the movie is flawed, in fact, it’s the opposite thanks to good pacing and impeccable dialogue. Trust me when I say, the “writing is on the wall” especially when it comes to Erik Killmonger. Speaking of which, Killmonger's arc isn’t that of a one note villain but at times, you can feel empathy for him.  Michael B. Jordan channels the persona of an outsider seeking his claim to recognition and to shake things up within the kingdom. There's that Cain and Abel struggle between the two major protagonists leading toward an emotionally packed face off.



Judging from the storylines, it seems as if both Cole and Coogler drew inspiration from Reginald Hudlin's run during the Black Panther comic and it shows from some of the dialogue which examines colonialism, isolationism and of course, racism.

I just wished that the trailers and promotional scenes didn’t give away the more important plot reveals. Another minor caveat would be the design of T'challa's updated costume which came off too gimmicky. nanotechnology fused with purple led accents?? Dafuq! They should've kept the costume from Civil War but with minor adjustments like the signature cape and sash from BP's first appearance in comics. However, color me very impressed by the Wakandan wardrobes as it further embellishes a more cultural aesthetic. Excellent costume designs for the most part.



(Think, tragic villain) However, the performances from Boseman and Jordan gave service amount of credibility when circumventing depth throughout the sub narrative. 


Now take away the special effects, colorful designs, tribal soundtrack and what we have left is still a damn good film thanks to its star-studded cast. It was great seeing the Who's who of African-American  actors and actresses appearing in this movie.



Lupita Nyongo was impressive as Nakia, Wakanda’s spy and T’challa’s  love interest and I loved the contrast between her and Diana Gurira’s Okoye (who also delivered an exceptional performance!) while Wakandan Bodyguard Okoye serves as the muscle, Nakia is the heart of the film.




 

You have a legendary actress like Angela Basset, who I had always visualized as X-Men's Storm but we ended up instead with Halle Berry but I digress. She may not have been chosen as the elemental goddess, but at least she’s now the Queen Mother of Wakanda!

Forest Whitaker as Zuri is once again some sage as in Star Wars' Rogue One. But his role plays a significant piece within the storyline that involves both redemption and responsibility.
Then you have the up and coming generation of black actors- Sterling K. Brown and Daniel Kaluuya as Tchalla’s best friend and confidant W’kabi.



There's also reoccurring characters from previous films including one major character who is saved for the post credits. Speaking of credits, I’m happy to see Reginuld Hudlin’s name appear among the other Marvel contributors who reshaped Black Panther. On a somber note, it's unfortunate that Jack “King” Kirby and my departed friend Rich Buckler are no longer around to see their ideas come to live action cinema. They would have been proud.




Although the mythologies of Black Panther are that of pure fiction, the undertones and metaphors like how the beauty and value of Africa (Diamonds) could have made the nation more prosperous for its inhabitants without the reputation of being referred to as a “Shithole country”.
This is a movie that is dignified and goes against the stereotypical characteristics of blacks often found in a few films. The world of Wakanda is highly dignified and it's hero is seen in a positive light


As it stands, I rate this movie on the same level as good as Captain America: The Winter Soldier good. It seems that the hyperbolic praise was worth it. There's a new King in the box office, and its T'challa! All “hail to the king, baby”.


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